US Congress passes tax cut legislation

WASHINGTON– The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 227 to 203 to approve a USD 1.5 trillion tax bill that gives deep and permanent tax cuts to corporations while providing temporary tax cuts for individual taxpayers, including the wealthiest Americans.

The vote, which follows overnight US Senate approval of the bill, is the biggest legislative achievement for Republicans since they took control of Congress and the White House last January.

President Donald Trump has said he planned to sign the bill into law before Christmas, which is Monday. It represents the most sweeping US tax overhaul in decades.

“I would like to thank the members of Congress who supported this historic bill, which represents an extraordinary victory for American families, workers and businesses,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

“Unemployment continues to fall, the stock market is at a record high, and wages will soon be on the rise,” Trump said. “By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy.” The centerpiece of the legislation is its permanent lowering of the corporate tax from 35 percent to 21 percent, while also rewriting individual tax rules to lower rates and restructure deductions.

It cuts taxes in 2018 for the vast majority of US households, but by far, the largest benefits go to the wealthy. Many of the tax breaks are set to expire at the end of 2025, leaving much of the middle class to pay more in taxes. Republicans have said that a future Congress will intervene to prevent that tax hike from happening.

The White House and Republicans say the tax cuts will lead to more hiring and higher wages. They also say the changes will draw many corporations back to the US, providing incentives for them to manufacture more goods domestically and make US firms more competitive with foreign firms.

Nonpartisan analyses have found the plan would add up to USD 1 trillion to the deficit over a decade, and far more if the individual tax cuts are extended.

Not a single Democrat in the House or Senate voted for the legislation. Democrats blasted the plan, saying it will provide limited benefits to the middle class while favoring the wealthy and corporations. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi said the bill was “Armageddon,” while Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said it was a “heist.” How this argument plays out among US voters next year will likely play a major role in whether Republicans retain control of Congress after the 2018 elections next November.

Source: Kuwait News Agency